Packers Defense

Sunshinepacker

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I've been on the fire Capers bandwagon since 2012 at least. I see the second half defense this season as an aberration, akin to the season run of 2010. I'd like to see the same result. I really hope in that case we don't suffer through another three years of, is it the coach or the players.

If we can win a Super Bowl every four years but have a playoff team with terrible defense the other three, I'll take that any day of the week (though I think MM and Rodgers' refusal to run the ball against the Bills will cost us the title this year).
 

Sunshinepacker

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Packer run D got better the SECOND half of the year through the additions of Clay and Sam Barrington and the additions (through the subtractions) of Hawk and B. Jones.

Many Packer fans have been noting Hawk and Jones were not good for the past couple of seasons, which begs the questions does Dom get credit for replacing them when he did? Or blame for not replacing them earlier? Or does the fact TT (over)paid in signing both Jones & Hawk to expensive second contracts enter into the equation?

First, you couldn't move Clay inside until you were sure that Peppers could make the transition to OLB and that Perry would actually stay healthy. There weren't any players that could take Clay's position until this year and the coaches didn't know that until they'd played some games.

As for Barrington, it's not like the guy has been Navarro Bowman, he's been better than Hawak or Jones but not light years better. Honestly, he's probably looked a lot better since he's played mostly with Matthews at ILB and that makes things MUCH easier.
 

PackerDNA

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While it's a valid statement to say they've been up against inferior offenses the past 2 games, the fact remains that the D has played very well.
That said, I still don't trust them to come up big in the playoffs.
 

GreenBaySlacker

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Even with the way the D played before Clay was switched inside, they’re 12th in scoring D and total yards. They are tied for 7th in takeaways but lead the league in TO differential. Regarding the Bucs game, I remember not all that long ago how Packers fans would complain the D would allow mediocre opposing QBs to look great. IMO the D looked very good against the Bucs, even taking into account who they were playing.

I agree leadership is important but IMO “leadership is everything” is overstated. In the NFL you have to talent; for example I think any DC’s defensive backfield would be significantly handicapped with a player like MD Jennings starting at safety. So I place some of the blame for some bad Ds during Capers’ tenure on Thompson and the personnel department. It's a balance of talent and leadership/coaching.

As far as Capers’ continuing to learn, I don’t have any reason to disbelieve the reports of McCarthy’s role in the off season in changing the defense. And Silverstein reported that during the bye week, “…McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers came up with the idea of moving Matthews.” http://www.jsonline.com/sports/pack...-inside-linebacker-b99387234z1-282102951.html It’s pretty apparent to me Capers has received a couple of "pushes" from McCarthy this season.
That is the circle of blame we have been dealing with the last few years. Capers came in and still had tallent on the roster. added two premiere 1st rounders, and boom, we are good. Every year since we let a good D-player go. Woodson, Harris, and Collins gave us Hall of fame leadership, and clutch plays to keep things respectable. On a injury plagued year. We BARELY BARELY BARELY made the playoffs. We underdog 3 playoff wins. Woodson goes down at half time of the superbowl, and if there were 5 more minutes left in the game, I doubt we would have won. They found out Woodson was the backbone and brain box of that defense... Miracle Superbowl trophy in hand, our freshly contracted coaches started a mini-rebuild. We watched our second tier project defensive players fail to step up imediately. There was no woodson, Harris, Collins to do everything. The deffinition of bad came when we entered the season with huge defensive holes. Lost our good players to injury. At the same time the offense was putting up huge points, and opposing offenses had to open up the throttle. Our entire defensive unit buckled under the pressure.

Since then Thompson has slowly built a defense. The slow build, was slowed even more by more injuries, and new corner stones not being consistant.

Everyone wants to say Capers fault. If it was his fault, he would be gone. Because it directly reflects on McCarthy as well as Thompson... But Capers stayed. Thompson finally gave capers a great core of young tallent. Then sped things up with some huge free agent pick ups. So for Thompson there are no more excuses!!! McCarthy has become more involved, and firm in his resolve. This WILL be a better defense this year. Because McCarthy has been standing over Capers shoulder, ready to squash any overly creative complications. We have the man power now. Time to just play football. and use the creativity to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.

So it seems Capers is walking the walk. Given the players. Not given any mulligan years. He has brought a top tier defense into week 17.

So is it Ted Thompson, and his previous unwillingness to invest in the defense, the cause of the problem?
Dont matter now. Ted has invested in the defense. McCarthy has stepped up as head coach. Capers has come through as defensive cord., and finally having fun, with real veteran leadership, the young players are rallying to become a power house.

Our LBs and secondary are dominant... What we are missing is a fresh, motivated Raji. No disreaspect to Guion. But if Raji made the transformation like the rest of the team. And Raji looked like he did his rookie year!?!?! Basicly he could run through a double team. To the point where teams had to take him out low. Give Raji some help and make football fun again. That guy can give us another man advantage, on top of the bee swarm we already have.
Point being. Daniels, Guion, Boyd, even Jones, are all playing well. Well enough for the rest of the defense to have flexability. But we are not dominant up front. One beastly Raji would open up the flood gates. IMO.
 

TJV

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That is the circle of blame we have been dealing with the last few years. ... Everyone wants to say Capers fault. If it was his fault, he would be gone.
I’m not sure what you mean by the “circle of blame” but I disagree with the second statement. I think Capers, Thompson, and McCarthy share the blame (and to a lesser extent the personnel staff and assistant coaches) for the past subpar play of the D. But we as outsiders just can’t be sure how much blame to attribute to each. For example, if Capers has been loudly complaining about the lack of talent at safety and ILB for the past few seasons behind closed doors, he would be much less to blame than if he had told Thompson and McCarthy MD Jennings or McMillian would be OK starting at safety. From what we’ve read as fans, it looks like Capers has been a big supporter of Hawk. Is that true? Did reporters get the story straight? In spite of what he was saying in public, was Capers pushing behind the scenes for Hawk’s big contract a few seasons ago by telling Thompson is was ‘indispensable’, or did he just tell Thompson Hawk was “OK”?

Having said that and beyond personnel matters, we’ve seen Capers’ inability or unwillingness to adjust in-game. Sometimes for significant parts of games. I don't think that can fairly be attributed to anyone else. And if Capers was doing a great job, why did McCarthy have to intervene as significantly as he did before this season and again at the bye week? Also there’s evidence that Capers has turned Ds around at previous teams and then those Ds regress leading to his exit.

Finally IMO Shawn Slocum has been worthy of being replaced. If I remember correctly, a good STs coach or two were available last off season or the one before that and there was no attempt by McCarthy to upgrade that position. Slocum has had to deal with injuries affecting who he can play on STs but is there evidence he's an above average STs coach?
 

MichiganSportsTalk

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Last 7 games the Packers have given up a out 3.6 yards per carry

Seattle in same time frame 3.8 yards per carry

Over the last 7, Lions have given up 2.8 ypc.

Packers have given up 580 yards in the [last] 7 games----or 82 yards per game --that would be good enough for 3rd in the NFL

Compare to Seattle in same time frame----given up in last 7 games, 598 yards rushing or 85 yards per gamer

Lions have given up 365 for 52.14 per game over the last 7.

For the Season
Seattle rush def, 8 tds
GB rush def, 11 tds

Seattle in their last 7 games, 3 rushing tds given up

GB has given up only 2 rushing TDS since the bye...The 8 games prior they gave up 9 tds

My main point to show was that Seattle's def gets all this praise, yet our run defense is better

Lions have 7 on the season, 3 in last 7 games.


Just sayin.....
 

brandon2348

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Over the last 7, Lions have given up 2.8 ypc.



Lions have given up 365 for 52.14 per game over the last 7.



Lions have 7 on the season, 3 in last 7 games.


Just sayin.....

Your preaching to the choir. I've been saying it for awhile. The Lions have better defense then the Seahawks. I agree with you 1000 percent.
 

MichiganSportsTalk

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Your preaching to the choir. I've been saying it for awhile. The Lions have better defense then the Seahawks. I agree with you 1000 percent.

Better run defense anyway. Detroit's secondary is dependent on the front 7 wreaking havoc. If they have a slow start or an off game, the secondary falters a bit.
 

brandon2348

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Better run defense anyway. Detroit's secondary is dependent on the front 7 wreaking havoc. If they have a slow start or an off game, the secondary falters a bit.

Exactly but I would prefer the type of D that wreaks havoc upfront and that can get to the QB. Great secondary is nice but when your playing against a QB like Aaron Rodgers I believe your best chance is getting to him and disrupting upfront.

Instead of hoping you can keep up with receivers all day and letting him throw.
 
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HardRightEdge

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I’m not sure what you mean by the “circle of blame” but I disagree with the second statement. I think Capers, Thompson, and McCarthy share the blame (and to a lesser extent the personnel staff and assistant coaches) for the past subpar play of the D. But we as outsiders just can’t be sure how much blame to attribute to each. For example, if Capers has been loudly complaining about the lack of talent at safety and ILB for the past few seasons behind closed doors, he would be much less to blame than if he had told Thompson and McCarthy MD Jennings or McMillian would be OK starting at safety. From what we’ve read as fans, it looks like Capers has been a big supporter of Hawk. Is that true? Did reporters get the story straight? In spite of what he was saying in public, was Capers pushing behind the scenes for Hawk’s big contract a few seasons ago by telling Thompson is was ‘indispensable’, or did he just tell Thompson Hawk was “OK”?

Having said that and beyond personnel matters, we’ve seen Capers’ inability or unwillingness to adjust in-game. Sometimes for significant parts of games. I don't think that can fairly be attributed to anyone else. And if Capers was doing a great job, why did McCarthy have to intervene as significantly as he did before this season and again at the bye week? Also there’s evidence that Capers has turned Ds around at previous teams and then those Ds regress leading to his exit.

Finally IMO Shawn Slocum has been worthy of being replaced. If I remember correctly, a good STs coach or two were available last off season or the one before that and there was no attempt by McCarthy to upgrade that position. Slocum has had to deal with injuries affecting who he can play on STs but is there evidence he's an above average STs coach?
To expand on those points, there are three particular issues I'd lay at the feet of Capers regardless of his involvement in personnel decisions.

1) His benchmark stat, as has been quoted at least once per year over the last several seasons, is the spread between the Packers' offensive passer rating and his defenses' passer-rating-against. Given the offensive number Rodgers consistently provides on one side of the equation, Capers has chosen a low bar to hurdle, which is disappointing to start with. As a predictor of winning, it smacks of being a convenient bit of data mining.

By Capers measure, the 2011 defense was very good, with a 10th. ranked 80.6 passer rating against. Unfortunately, that passer rating was padded with the 31 interceptions. Here are less favorable stats:

- dead last in the league in pass yards surrendered with 4,796 yards; that was an NFL record at the time and might still be
- dead last in the league in +20 yard pass plays
- 27th in sacks with 29
- 27th in TDs surrendered with 29
- 26th in 3rd. down conversions against at 42.6%

If that's not bad enough, the Packers were defending teams regularly playing from behind, thereby being forced to throw the ball. A team should defend a lot better than that dismal performance when it knows what's coming!

It was an undisciplined, poor tackling, route jumping, ball-hawking defense which was at high risk of failure on a day when the opposing QB was not throwing them the ball.

2) As for the "is it the coaching or the talent?" question, the history and circumstances of up-and-down tackling is one key aspect that points to the coaching. It seems to have become an annual ritual in recent years where the defense goes through a multi-game stretch of poor tackling, McCarthy's patience wears thin, he makes public statements about it being a key failure, and a pickup in the motors, the second efforts and the pursuit soon follows.

That's clearly not a talent issue. The head coach should not have nag the guys in the press to execute the basics of the job. The DC should have that covered, and get it covered before it starts looking like a habit.

3) Then there's the complexity issue. As I pointed out in the preseason, the "less scheme" proclamation was widely misinterpreted. It became quickly evident that it was going to be a "more scheme, less filling" approach, i.e., yet more permutations of the defense but less per player (for some players, that is) via situational rotations. I think we've seen every possible defensive alignment and call known to the modern game this season short of a rush 8 jailbreak.

This approach is at odds with the constant refreshing of the roster with young players. There's a point at which a unit gets over-guru-ed with the young players getting taken down the rabbit hole. Then it takes 3 years to figure out if they can be decent NFL players!

As far as Capers involvement in personnel decisions, I'd point to his proclamation in the 2013 offseason that the defense needed more length followed by the Datone Jones pick, and his proclamation in the 2014 offseason that a defense needs to be built around at least 3 playmakers, followed by the Peppers signing (a two-fer with length and play making). I don't believe Thompson and the scouting staff are working in a vacuum.

A final point...if it was McCarthy who initiated moving Matthews to the middle in nickel in an effort to back up his promise that the defense would be better in CAPITAL LETTERS, then that should be the final straw.
 
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HardRightEdge

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Despite my anti-Capers diatribe above, I'm feeling a lot better about the defense at this moment than at any time since 2010. While Tampa is hardly an offense to write home about, the fundamentals, aggressiveness and coherence looks like something that can be repeated.

It should not have taken this long to figure it out.
 

brandon2348

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Despite my anti-Capers diatribe above, I'm feeling a lot better about the defense at this moment than at any time since 2010. While Tampa is hardly an offense to write home about, the fundamentals, aggressiveness and coherence looks like something that can be repeated.

It should not have taken this long to figure it out.

I think everyone at some point has been frustrated with Capers and the D over the last four years. If you didn't then something might be wrong with you. I am also feeling more confident then in a long long time and I don't believe it to be "fools gold".

I could go on and on about why I think the defense declined and what happened that led to the decline of our defense but IMO we have finally got the key pieces in place along with talent and health to produce a positive result to compete for a World Championship.

Throw in another "enforcer type ILB" that can fly around and another guy upfront and this defense could get on the "scary side".

I really believed at the beginning of the season that if guys stayed healthy and the young guys produced up to there talent level and these guys could play together for some time they could be pretty darn good. My only real fear was the Brad Jones/A.J Hawk deal and it appears they have dialed up a temporary answer for it. It has been great to see things unfold the way they have.

Capers, through it all might be the last one standing with the last laugh.
 
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HardRightEdge

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Throw in another "enforcer type ILB" that can fly around and another guy upfront and this defense could get on the "scary side".
Right. This will be the third and second consecutive drafts, respectively, I've been looking for those guys. Barrington looks like a thumper; a complement not named Matthews would be helpful.
 

brandon2348

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Right. This will be the third and second consecutive drafts, respectively, I've been looking for those guys. Barrington looks like a thumper; a complement not named Matthews would be helpful.

Why not throw in another thumper with 4.5 speed that can cover. I would celebrate for days if TT landed this guy.

You must be logged in to see this image or video!
 

brandon2348

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Right. This will be the third and second consecutive drafts, respectively, I've been looking for those guys. Barrington looks like a thumper; a complement not named Matthews would be helpful.

Also, I know Joe Thomas is an UDFA guy on injured reserve but he has the tools and skill set to develop into a nice sub-package linebacker. Very fast and athletic guy that was doing well in camp before he got hurt.
 
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So we had a respectful argument in here early in the year about scheme/coaching vs. player talent/administration being a larger degree of impact on our Defensive woes early in the season.. Now that we are wrapping up the season, is there anyone who has varied their stance?
 

TJV

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McGinn had a good, in-depth article a couple of days ago about the improvement in the D since the bye titled, Packers' defense transformed by cornerbacks' coverage.
When the Green Bay Packers' defense was at low ebb two months ago, adjusting the role of Clay Matthews and several other players wasn't the team's only major response. Heaping more responsibility on the secondary, especially the cornerbacks, was the other.
http://www.jsonline.com/sports/pack...rnerbacks-coverage-b99418753z1-287430621.html

He relates a lot of stats comparing this year's D to previous years. A caution to one poster in particular: It's kinda long.
 

DaveRoller

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The McGinn article praising the CBs coverage was very good. However, we had good CBs the first half of the year (and last year) and the D still struggled mightily.

In fact, at the outset of his article, McGinn asserts "Green Bay's remarkable rise as a run defense can be attributed to many factors, particularly using Matthews at inside linebacker while at the same time reducing the role of A.J. Hawk."

Another article yesterday from Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal makes the very same point:

"Those numbers changed dramatically after Capers began changing his personnel and approach during the bye week.

Outside linebacker Clay Matthews started receiving snaps inside, which gave the Packers more speed and play-making ability there and also increased the playing time of outside linebackers Mike Neal and Nick Perry. Untested thumper Sam Barrington started seeing action inside as aging A.J. Hawk’s role was reduced
."

Dom has always stressed stopping the run first. Without moving Clay to the middle and reducing Hawk's role, there was nothing the CBs, secondary, OLBs, etc. could do to significantly improve the D.
 

TJV

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I read both articles and IMO McGinn's is more detailed (and written before Oates'). What McGinn is saying is while the CBs are obviously the same, after the bye they are relying on them more by playing C-D as the lone deep safety and Burnett closer to the LOS. The CBs are more "on an island" than they were before the bye.
 

Sunshinepacker

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Unfortunately, I'm fairly certain that will be the case.

Wait, you're hoping our defense is bad so Capers will leave? I don't think Raji is a good NT but that doesn't mean I ever rooted for him to be bad, the opposite in fact because that would have helped the Packers.
 
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HardRightEdge

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Wait, you're hoping our defense is bad so Capers will leave? I don't think Raji is a good NT but that doesn't mean I ever rooted for him to be bad, the opposite in fact because that would have helped the Packers.
Nope, I hope the Packers win the Super Bowl and Capers leaves. But like I said, I project his departure on or after 2027.

I never rooted for Raji to be bad; I knew him to be bad. Interestingly, I ran across the following link just before you posted, a piece written in the 2013 preseason, so your comments are well-timed:

http://www.jsonline.com/sports/pack...-learning-improving-b9948616z1-215012981.html

"As rudimentary as it sounds, Raji spent much of his off-season focused on shedding blockers. While that basic football fundamental is preached beginning in Pop Warner, Raji said that aspect of his game had slipped.

So Raji and defensive line coach Mike Trgovac devoted much of their off-season to working on that premise.

"I think, and Mike Trgovac said it the best, he feels like that's one of the most under-coached things in the league, being able to get off blocks because you kind of tend to believe that a guy makes it to this level that he's just able to naturally do it," Raji said. "And he's made a concerted effort to help us as far as that's concerned. I'm just trying to follow suit and do the best I can."

Without getting into how remarkable these admissions might be, let's consider how that offseason "work" paid off.

In 2013, Raji managed 17 tackles, 3 for loss and 1 pass defended in 666 snaps with only about 15% of those snaps at the nose. By every measure and eye test, it was a dreadful season. His primary work was as a base DE and nickel 3-tech. It was his 2nd. consecutive season without a sack over something like 1400 snaps. Putting Raji back at NT for 2014 was supposed to be the next solution for his failing to get off blocks? Really?

Without even considering a Guion/Raji comparison, let's look at Boyd's production this year playing a similar role to Raji's in 2013...mostly base DE, a little NT. Boyd took 35% of the defensive snaps, or about 350 snaps. Despite playing something like 47% fewer snaps than Raji in 2013, Boyd managed 19 tackles, 3 for loss, and 1 pass defended.

I'm sure it will surprise many readers of this post, as it did for me, that Boyd was on the field for 1/3 of our defensive snaps, considering how unimpactful he's been. Yet his tackling production was nearly double Raji's 2013 performance on a per snap basis doing the same job. Changes to the defensive front from a 2-gap to a 1-gap approach does not account for the difference.

While I would never wish an injury on any player, Packer or otherwise, Raji's injury was fortuitous.
 
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HardRightEdge

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Hawk still plays regularly in base D, the presumed running downs.

It raises some interesting questions about which changes were most impactful in the run game improvement.

I'd be curious to know the yds. per carry numbers in base D vs. nickel D before the bye and after the bye, and for when Barrington is on the field vs. off.

It was pretty clear moving Matthews to the inside in nickel was to shore up the pass defense; seeing a gimpy TE run away from Hawk in the open field was illustrative, embarrassing and a red flag moment for opponent tape study. The eye test would indicate Matthews is an upgrade in the nickel run defense, likely limiting rush yards in the tweener downs.

Still, with Hawk not being a particularly stout run defender, he's still out there in base and the opponents run production has gone down markedly after the bye.
 

adambr2

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http://www.jsonline.com/sports/pack...-learning-improving-b9948616z1-215012981.html

"As rudimentary as it sounds, Raji spent much of his off-season focused on shedding blockers. While that basic football fundamental is preached beginning in Pop Warner, Raji said that aspect of his game had slipped.

So Raji and defensive line coach Mike Trgovac devoted much of their off-season to working on that premise.

"I think, and Mike Trgovac said it the best, he feels like that's one of the most under-coached things in the league, being able to get off blocks because you kind of tend to believe that a guy makes it to this level that he's just able to naturally do it," Raji said.

Well BJ, you were certainly able to destroy that theory in 2013.


Without getting into how remarkable these admissions might be, let's consider how that offseason "work" paid off.

In 2013, Raji managed 17 tackles, 3 for loss and 1 pass defended in 666 snaps with only about 15% of those snaps at the nose. By every measure and eye test, it was a dreadful season. His primary work was as a base DE and nickel 3-tech. It was his 2nd. consecutive season without a sack over something like 1400 snaps. Putting Raji back at NT for 2014 was supposed to be the next solution for his failing to get off blocks? Really?

I was baffled at this logic, too. I think it was more wishful thinking than anything, but many fans seemed to be convinced that Raji would somehow regain the ability to shed blocks by moving back to the nose.

Without even considering a Guion/Raji comparison, let's look at Boyd's production this year playing a similar role to Raji's in 2013...mostly base DE, a little NT. Boyd took 35% of the defensive snaps, or about 350 snaps. Despite playing something like 47% fewer snaps than Raji in 2013, Boyd managed 19 tackles, 3 for loss, and 1 pass defended.

I'm sure it will surprise many readers of this post, as it did for me, that Boyd was on the field for 1/3 of our defensive snaps, considering how unimpactful he's been. Yet his tackling production was nearly double Raji's 2013 performance on a per snap basis doing the same job. Changes to the defensive front from a 2-gap to a 1-gap approach does not account for the difference.

I actually can't say I'm surprised by that. I've long been trying to convince others of the albatross that Raji has become on defense, but many just don't seem to realize how bad he is. Raji is often excused because of the scheme and because of his past reputation and draft position, yet others who are thrust into his same role have a great deal more success (or even moderately more success in much less time, as in Boyd's case).

People don't fully accept how awful of a player BJ Raji was in 2013. Many are living in a fantasy world where Raji had a bit of a down year, but still thinking he's a beast inside and much missed this year. He was not underwhelming, he was not so-so, he was not average. He was awful, even historically awful. Him turning down our contract extension in 2013 is a huge relief now not only because the money that we would owe him, but the role that we'd almost be required to find for him on D going forward to justify his contract.
 

DaveRoller

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Hawk still plays regularly in base D, the presumed running downs.

It raises some interesting questions about which changes were most impactful in the run game improvement.

I'd be curious to know the yds. per carry numbers in base D vs. nickel D before the bye and after the bye, and for when Barrington is on the field vs. off.

It was pretty clear moving Matthews to the inside in nickel was to shore up the pass defense; seeing a gimpy TE run away from Hawk in the open field was illustrative, embarrassing and a red flag moment for opponent tape study. The eye test would indicate Matthews is an upgrade in the nickel run defense, likely limiting rush yards in the tweener downs.

Still, with Hawk not being a particularly stout run defender, he's still out there in base and the opponents run production has gone down markedly after the bye.

Clay was moved to ILBer after the New Orleans game in which Mark Ingram ran all over them. He is so much more active and aggressive than what we have seen from Brad Jones and Hawk in the past, that it is jarring to the senses.

The shift away from Hawk began shortly after midseason -- and yes the play in which Kyle Rudolph (making his first appearance in many weeks and playing with a bad wheel) whizzed by AJ like he was a bullet train helped hasten the reduction in playing time. In the New England game, Sam Barrington made 2 stops on the opening drive that prevented a first down and led to a 3 and out. With Hawk on the field those tackles are made, if at all, well past the line of scrimmage.

I am just fearful that, against the Cowboys and DeMarco Murray and the Seahawks and Marshawn Lynch if we win on Sunday, we will see more base played and hence more Hawk on the field on D. That is not a good thing.
 

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